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The Basics of Variable Frequency Drives (VFD)

Over the past several years, the aquatic industry has become more innovative, introducing owners and operators to new technologies and advancements which ultimately create opportunities to improve safety, increase longevity of the facility, and even provide energy savings. One of the advancements the aquatic industry has been very enthusiastic about is Variable Frequency Drives (VFD's).

 

WHAT IS A VFD?

A VFD is essentially a power conversion device. VFD's convert basic fixed-frequency and line power to a variable frequency and variable-voltage output which is used to control the speed of induction motors or pumps. Most VFD's are simple to install and are user friendly, however they are quite sophisticated in relation to their hardware and software operation.

 

The basic function of a VFD in the aquatic industry is to provide substantial energy savings. This is accomplished by controlling the speed of a pump rather than controlling flow through use of a throttling valve. Essentially, when you reduce the speed of a pump, you create energy savings.  In addition to energy savings, the life of the impeller, bearing and seal is greatly improved which leads to longer lasting pumps.

 

BENEFITS OF USING A VFD

  • Saves money on energy consumption.
  • Maintenance costs are lower due to the lower operating speeds resulting in a longer life for bearings and motors.
  • A soft starter for the motor is no longer required.
  • Controlled ramp-up speed in a pool system can eliminate water hammer problems.
  • With a compact and modular design, VFD’s do not take up a lot of space.
  • Protect against system overloads, motor failures, motor and drive overheating, voltage disturbances, power surges, loss of phase, ground fault, overvoltage, over current, under voltage, external fault, over temperature, etc.
  • Minimize motor noise and heating with adjustable switching frequency modulation.

WHAT CAN'T A VFD DO?

  • Boost the output voltage significantly above the input voltage.
  • Increase the output power of the pump or motor.
  • Fix mechanical problems.

Variable Frequency Drives are a great addition to any pool equipment room whether it’s new or existing. Not only do they save owners and pool operators on the costs associated with high energy consumption, but they also increase the longevity of the pumps and motors. VFD’s are available in different sizes (HP) and voltage requirements.

 

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Guide to Pool Closing

As the temperatures begin to drop, the realization that the end of the summer season is approaching sets in. While the colder weather looms in the near distance, our to-do lists grow significantly as we scramble to get all of our summer equipment stored away before it gets too cold. Since most residential, commercial outdoor pools and splash pads close after Labour Day weekend in Canada, closing the pool usually tops the list for pool owners and operators.

 

For residential pools especially, did you know that it is best to keep your pool open until the water temperature is consistently below 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit)? This allows the water to be a consistently lower temperature which creates a better environment for closing chemicals, ensuring they last until spring.

 

For commercial pools and splash pads it’s a completely different world. Most large commercial pools are required to be fully drained in order to plug up all of the main drains and ensure all of the systems are completely empty.  

 

Tip! Before winterizing, chemically treat your filtration system. Contact your pool experts to find out how to remove grease and oil from your filters to increase their lifespan and save money for next season!

 

Use the checklist below as a guideline for closing your outdoor pool.

  • Remove deck equipment, hardware, and non-permanent objects such as ladders, rails, tot slides, guard chairs, starting blocks, drinking fountains, accessibility lifts, portable ramps, clocks, weirs, and safety equipment to prevent vandalism. Store in a clearly marked, identifiable, weather- protected location. Cap all exposed deck sockets.
  • Remove the diving boards and store them indoors (upside down and flat to prevent warping).
  • Follow your manufactures directions for the winterization of any toys and water features in your facility. Some smaller units can be removed, while others, like dumping buckets, remain and have specific procedures to follow for winterizing.
Tip! Isolate your flow cell for your probes before you drain your system.
  • Completely drain the pool and remove all white goods and skimmer baskets and store in a marked container. Residential Pools only need to be drained down to 1 ½’ below the returns and discharge the lines.
  • Drain all of the pool equipment including pumps, strainers, heater, UV systems, filters, surge tanks and holding tanks.
  • Store all probes from chemical controllers in water in a warm environment for the winter months. Do not allow the water to freeze.
  • Using an air compressor and correct connections, discharge the main drains, skimmer/gutter lines, returns and jets from the mechanical room to the pool. 
  • Plug all of the lines on the pool side with the proper sized fitting or test plugs. Consult your pool specialist for assistance if you need to replace any threaded or test plugs.
  • Fill your pumps or strainers with pool grade antifreeze to keep the mechanical seals lubricated for the winter. This will ensure a smooth start up in the spring. 
  • Fill the pool for the winter to your recommended depth based on your specific pools requirements. If you're unsure about your facility's requirements, contact your pool consultant or design engineer. 
  • Install pool covers if required in your area.
  • Turn off the water supply and restroom showers, sinks, and toilets.
  • Drain all of the pipes to ensure all of the lines are free of water. Remove shower heads and drinking fountain handles.
  • Open hose bibs and fill spouts.
  • Have your phone service provider disconnect the pool telephone and discontinue service for the winter season.
  • Confirm the security of the facility to present unauthorized access.

Ensuring you have winterized properly can be a worrisome, but with the right preparation beforehand and ensuring you have the proper tools, you will be ready. Before you know it, Spring will be upon us and it will be time to open again!

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High In The Sky

In today's world swimming pools are all around us. Who doesn’t have a pool in their backyard or have a close neighbour with one? Friends and family gather around them, making wonderful memories every day. Fitness clubs have pools, community centres have pools, hotels have pools, and now high rises in the sky even have them. Building a residential or commercial pool on the ground level is a relatively easy task, but what are the challenges of building an elevated pool high in the sky?

 

CONSIDERATIONS

When building in a high rise structure, several considerations need to be taken into account during design. Keep in mind a 4 foot deep lap pool that is 75 feet long holds approximately 75,000 gallons of water. Water weighs 8.34 pounds per US gallon, equating to 625,500 pounds of water - and that’s just the weight of the water! Add in the weight of the concrete pool shell, reinforcing steel, interior finishes and mechanical items and it doesn’t take long for a small lap pool to weigh in excess of 900,000 pounds. That’s a lot of additional weight on a building structure or roof top. Structural engineers and architects have their work cut out for them to design and engineer a building structure that’s safe enough to hold all of this additional weight.

 

 

One other consideration when designing a swimming pool in an elevated structure is waterproofing and sealing of the structure. Nobody wants 75,000 gallons of water leaking out into a building and running down into the main lobby. Today’s swimming pools have cantilevered edges that hang out over the edge of buildings, windows in the walls, and in some cases glass bottoms. Providing a positive seal in extreme building conditions such as this can be a challenge. Engineers spend countless hours running calculations to provide 100% watertight designs.

 

Aside from the structural and waterproofing challenges outlined above during design, now there is the challenge of building it. Countless men and women climb story after story of stairs or ride construction elevators 10, 20, even 50 stories up to start construction of these wonderful and challenging pools high in the sky. Hundreds of cubic meters of concrete need to be pumped up, or craned up sometimes hundreds of feet to be poured in place. Thousands of pounds of structural reinforcing steel and mechanical equipment need to be hoisted in place by tower cranes and snaked through the building structure to be constructed in place. Every move in this elevated construction environment needs to have several hours or even days of planning. On the ground it's easy, back up the cement truck and start pouring. When you're 50 stories in the air, it’s a little more challenging. 

 

 

So the next time you visit a luxury hotel or you're at a resort on your next vacation check out the roof top swimming pool. Challenge yourself to swim out over the cantilevered edge and imagine the challenges of constructing that beautiful masterpiece.

 

Fun Fact: Some elevated swimming pools in high rise buildings are used to protect the building structure in event of a fire. Some of these pools have a connection so the fire department can quickly pump water out of the pool in the event of a building fire.

 

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The Benefits of a Splash Pad

When a hot summer day hits, is there anything more fun and refreshing than playing in the water? Throughout communities across North America, splash pads are becoming an increasingly popular alternative for traditional outdoor aquatic centres like swimming pools and wading pools. They are typically located at municipal parks, water parks, and resorts, but they can be found almost anywhere. The growing demand for splash pads is not surprising, as there are several significant benefits associated including cost savings, accessibility, flexibility and more!

 

NO LIFEGUARDS REQUIRED

A major advantage of splash pads is that lifeguards are not required. This is a big savings and allows smaller communities to install a splash pad in place of a pool to help cut back on running costs.

 

ATTRACT THE COMMUNITY

One of the largest advantages of a splash pad is their visual appearance. Even a limited number of water features can help draw people from the community to parks and pools alike. With endless options for water features and interactive toys splash pads can be a simple attraction for anything from a community pool to a campground or park. Splash pads can also be an effective way to attract members of the community to public areas such as public parks or community centers.

 

ACCESSIBILITY

With the way splash pads are designed there is no additional accommodations or equipment required for accessibility. With a pool, costly lifts or large ramps are required to meet accessibility standards, though with splash pads being on grade there are no issues getting onto the pad. Along with access to the pads, because users are not submerged it is much easier for someone in a wheelchair to enjoy the splash pad.

 

COMMUNITY

In most cases, communities do not charge admission for splash pads, as this is a good way to give back to the people of the community. A splash pad is an easy way to provide somewhere to cool off without the costs of building a pool. Splash pads are also highly appealing to small children and toddlers who are too small to touch the bottom of a pool.

 

FLEXIBILITY

Splash pads can be made in any shape or size desirable, and this allows for endless flexibility for locations where splash pads can be built. Splash pads can be added to existing developed areas where there would be no room for a pool. Many splash pads do not recirculate which means the mechanical equipment required can typically fit into a small cabinet.  This allows for a splash pad to be built basically anywhere as no underground tanks or mechanical rooms are required.

 

LOW MAINTENANCE

Since the majority of splash pads do not recirculate the water used in the system, there is minimal maintenance needed for the pad. In this situation, chemicals are not used for the water, and an operator on staff is not required as the system only needs to be checked periodically. 

 

SAFETY

Since the primary target of splash pads are children, safety is obviously a big concern and this is where a splash pad really shows advantage over a wading pool. Splash pads do not have any standing water, which eliminates any worry for those who are too small to swim, allowing them to enjoy a splash pad all on their own.

 

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Family Friendly Pool Toys

Your swimming pool can be a wonderland of fun and adventure. With the new and classic choices available, you have the ability to change the atmosphere from day to day simply by using different water toys. As a child growing up with a pool, nothing was more exciting than going to the pool store and looking at the new trendy toys. The options available today would blow my younger self’s mind.

 

POOL SPORTS

 

Pool sports and games are great fun for family and friends. A volley ball net allows for a large group to come together and play. With the ability to rotate in and out of the game, everybody of all age groups gets a chance to play. If you are looking for a more competitive game, poolside basketball and water polo nets are great options. There are even multi-use systems that combine games like volleyball and basketball. A cost-effective way to add more variety to your sport options.

 

INFLATABLE POOL TOYS

 

Todays inflatable toys have come a long way from what the options available when I was a kid. If you wish to relax and have some time for yourself, there is a limitless selection of mattresses, tubes, boats, themed floats, and lounges. Many inflatables have added games into the design, like Pongo Bongo or have built in water guns to turn your inflatable into an afternoon of competitive fun. Larger inflatable lounges and couches that can accommodate up to six people are also available - complete with built in coolers and cup holders. What a fantastic way to spend a lazy Sunday with friends! Options for little ones have expanded as well. The classic water wings are always available, along with a variety of floating seats with sun umbrellas, larger inflatable islands, play structures, wheels, slides and more - the choices are endless!

 

DIVE TOYS

 

Pool toys can keep young ones (and even the young at heart) busy for days on end. Dive toys are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing young swimmers to use their imagination to create new challenges. Also available, the “Aqua-Zooka” can shoot up to 50 feet and turn a regular water fight into a no holds barred battle.  It’s amazing that no matter how old you get, soaking somebody with a water gun is still a blast!

 

AQUATIC EXERCISE

 

Aquatic Exercise has become popular as a low impact fitness approach. The ability to swim with a deck mount tether or deck mount flow generator gives you the benefits of long distance swimming without the need for an Olympic sized pool. If aquatic exercise is what you enjoy, there's even treadmills and stationary bikes designed for use in pools. This is a terrific way to get the exercise without the hard impact on your joints and back. Foam weights are another amazing way to exercise by allowing buoyancy to create the desired resistance without the heavy impact of regular weights.

 

When it comes to choosing the best water toy for you and your family, the sky is the limit. The best part? You can choose more than one!

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10 Awesome Outdoor Pools To Visit

Now that we're half way through the first week of June, we can (finally) say goodbye to cold, wet weather! With temperatures on the rise, more of us are starting to leave our homes and look for ways to soak up the sun. One of the best and most popular ways to spend the summer is poolside. Swimming is the perfect way to cool off for many reasons. It's convenient and inexpensive and with most communities offering more than one public pool at a low cost per use, families of all income levels and in all areas of the community can gather at a local pool for some fun in the sun. Most swimming pools today, offer interactive fun in the form of spray features, water slides, diving boards and even climbing walls! These fun features are great additions that keep kids and adults alike busy, having a blast and refreshed all at the same time! Here is a list of 10 awesome outdoor pools to visit this summer.

 

FAIR GROUNDS AQUATIC PARK (STRATHROY, ONTARIO)

The Fair Grounds Aquatic Park in Strathroy, Ontario is the perfect place to spend a hot summer day with the family! This outdoor facility boasts exciting features for swimmers of all ages. The 6-lane lap pool is perfect for those looking to get some exercise or practice their swimming technique. The leisure pool, featuring a variety of spray features, is perfect for young children to splash around with their parents. For those looking to take it easy, the lazy river and hydrotherapy bench provide the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, and cool off, all at the same time! Finally, the exciting 22 ft water slide will have you returning in no time!

 

HORACE MANN PARK (RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA)

The brand new Horace Mann Park in Rapid City, South Dakota, opened to the public in 2015, following a complete re-build. This exciting waterpark features an outdoor lap pool, complete with diving boards, a recreation pool, water slides, and a Vortex play structure that will have kids splashing the day away! Gather your family and head to the Horace Mann Park for some fun in the sun!

 

NELSON POOL (BURLINGTON, ONTARIO)

Following a complete renovation, the brand new Nelson Pool opened to the public in 2017. The newly renovated pool is complete with an eight-lane, 50M pool with an adjoining beach-entry leisure pool and an adjacent splash pad. The climbing wall and diving boards are extra perks, enhancing the overall experience at the pool. Ground sprays projecting water upwards and outwards, a giant tipping bucket and small animal spray features are only a few of the exciting spray features you can find at the new splash pad.

 

SCHULENBURG POOL (WAUSAU, WISCONSIN)

Throughout the summer season the Schulenburg Pool is a popular gathering spot for the local Wausau community. With designated lap and leisure areas, two water slides and a vibrant play structure, there's something fun for the whole family.  All areas of the swimming pool are fully accesible, allowing swimmers of all ages and physical abilities the opportunity to enjoy this community amenity. Shade structures are located around the permieter of the swimming pool, perfect for parents or swimmers looking to lounge in the shade. 

 

TOMLINSON AQUA PARK (KINGSTON, ONTARIO)

Located in Kingston, Ontario, the Tomlinson Aqua Park boasts a 25M lap pool complete with diving boards along with a leisure pool featuring fun spray features! When you visit this water park you will also find an exciting, 10M water slide, a lazy river, toddler pool, and zero-depth beach entry. There is no better way to beat the heat this summer than a day spent at the Tomlinson Aqua Park!

 

TIOGA MUNICIPAL POOL (TIOGA, NORTH DAKOTA)

Families of Tioga, North Dakota love spending their summers at the Tioga Municipal Pool! Renovated in 2015, this family-friendly swimming pool features a frog slide, water umbrella and tumble buckets - perfect for young swimmers! The the water slide, diving board and lap/leisure pool are a great space for older children and adults to refresh in the summer heat.

 

LAKESHORE SWIMMING POOL ASSOCIATION (KINGSTON, ONTARIO)

The Lakeshore Swimming Pool in Kingston, Ontario officially opened to the public in the summer of 2015! After mechanical room and pool tank renovations, the facility was completely transformed. When visiting this facility, you will find a refreshing lap/leisure pool complete with diving boards and a small water slide! The brand new concrete deck is the perfect place to soak up the sun. Spend this summer poolside at the Lakeshore Swimming Pool Association!

 

ROOSEVELT PARK (RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA)

The outdoor aquatic facility at Roosevelt Park in Rapid City, South Dakota, includes a 10-lane, 50M outdoor pool with a movable bulkhead. When the bulkhead is in the middle park position, the pool transforms into a 20-lane pool, making this facility perfect for those looking to touch up on their swimming technique, practice for competitions, or even just get in a good lap swim! The facility also includes water polo courses for both men and women, and starting platforms, making this the place to be for aquatic competitions of all kinds!

 

CARDSTON OUTDOOR POOL (CARDSTON, ALBERTA)

The Cardston Outdoor Pool in Cardston, Alberta is the ideal cool-off spot for children, adults and families! This swimming pool features a 25M lap pool, wading pool, toddler pool, spray features, diving board and zero depth beach entry, making this facility fully accessible to the entire community. The park also includes a lazy river, bubble bench and an exciting water slide – tons of fun for children of all ages!

 

CANYON AQUA PARK/THE CAP (CANYON, TEXAS)

Beat the heat at The CAP in Canyon, Texas! Enjoy concessions, shade, and over 10,000 square feet of water fun! The CAP is home to a 6-lane lap pool with two diving boards and a basketball goal. In addition to the lap pool, swimmers can splash around on a giant play structure and or the exciting splash pad, relax in the lazy river or enjoy a ride on the speed slides!

 

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Guide to Pool Opening

It's that time of year again, the birds are chirping the sun is shining and the snow and frost are behind us. When this happens, professionals in both the commercial and residential aquatic world think of one thing...let’s open the pool!

 

With the warm April weather, the opening season is underway and in full swing. Are you ready to open your facility's outdoor swimming pool? Many of us made lists last winter with the best of intentions, but as with most things in life, those lists still stare us in the face. So here we are. It's time to finally tackle that list and get your pool open for the summer season!

 

One of the best strategies is to prepare an opening checklist to ensure your hard work doesn't come to a hault when you find you are missing pieces or in need of parts. Check out our sample checklist below.

  • Take inventory of all the operational parts like jets, return fitting, weirs etc. (in the pool industry we refer to these as “white goods”).
  • Ensure your flow meters, pressure and vacuum gauges, and o-rings are ready for opening day.
  • If during inventory, you find missing or find broken pieces, have them replaced and ready for installation.
  • Once your inventory is complete, ensure all of the necessary replacement pieces are ordered and ready to go on opening day!

"Did I winterize my outdoor swimming pool properly?" is the biggest worry every pool owner or operator has in the spring. Mother nature can be cruel, unpredictable and a powerful force over the winter, but most of the time it is out of our hands. Performing a walk around and checking the deck and pool area for visible damage and/or vandalism is the first step. Once your visual is done you can start your true opening procedures.

 

"Don't forget to order and check stock of all your chemicals for start-up and season opening."

 

Once your inventory check is complete, you've done a thorough walk around and you've ensured your chlorine delivery is ready to go, it's time to start opening your pool. If you're working on a commercial outdoor pool, drain out any of that dirty winter water with a submersible pump and use a power wash to clean up the walls and floor.

 

Remove any winterizing plugs in the main drains, returns and jets. Ensure that the hydrostats in the main drains are clean and working properly.

 

Reinstall drain covers and perform an inspection to ensure there is no broken, worn or dated pieces. If you find any areas of concern, consult your pool professional for immediate replacement.

 

Once everything is clean and shiny in the pool area, move onto the mechanical room. Ensure all the equipment is back together, and all of the o-rings on the pump and strainer lids are lubricated and ready to start.

 

Now that the pool is full and glistening in the sun and ready for start-up, run through all of your valves and ensure they are in proper operating positioning.

 

"Always start up the system on backwash. This will ensure that all of the left over sitting debris from the winter goes out to waste and not back into your beautiful swimming pool. Once a complete backwash is finished, start up on filter mode."

 

Your next task is getting the balancing done and ensuring your stabilizer levels are ready to help battle the hot summer sun and keep your operation costs down.

 

"Stabilizer is sunscreen for chlorine."

 

Now that the pool is operating and the water features are flowing, you can sit back, close your eyes and visualize the upcoming summer season.

 

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Meeting & Surpassing Code Requirements

The Ontario and other provincial Building Codes have minimum standards that have been established to ensure that new public pools are constructed to be safe and functional. Following construction, Health Departments are responsible for monitoring and regulating the operation of the pool. The entire content of the code is important, but some items really stand out. For example, strict adherence to the velocity of water moving through suction fittings like the main drains is really important. The velocity of water through main drains is dictated as not to exceed 1.5 fps (feet per second). This low velocity helps decrease the possibility that people might become entrapped or entangled by the main drain fitting.

 

Another really important factor is the turnover rate of the pool. For Class ‘A’ pools (a pool to which the general public is admitted), the entire volume of the pool has to be filtered and chemically treated every four hours. This ‘turnover rate’ provides some assurance that the pool water will be clean and safe for bathers to use. The Building and Health Codes are very important and have elements that work to ensure pools work really well and up to standards, most of the time. As with most rules, there are some exceptions that should be considered. An important question to consider is: When is it a good idea to do more than what the code calls for?

 

CLASS A & CLASS B POOLS

In Ontario for example, a Class ‘B’ pool (a pool operated on the premises of an apartment building with five or more units, a pool operated as a facility to serve a community of more than five single-family private residences, a pool operated on the premises of a hotel, a pool operated on the premises of a campground, a pool operated in conjunction with, a club or a condominium, a pool operated in conjunction with a day nursery, a day camp or an establishment for the care or treatment of persons who are ill, infirm or aged) is required to be designed in such a way that the circulation system exchanges the entire volume of the pools water once every six hours, or four times per day. Most of the time, this is totally acceptable, but there are times when it is not sufficient. At some resorts for example, the pools are shallow and the volume of water is small. This coupled with a very high usage, warmer water and bathers who may not shower as well as they should (especially children) can create a condition that makes the water quality very difficult to manage. We often oversize the circulation systems with larger than required pumps and filters in this instance and add secondary sanitation systems like UV to help ensure superior water quality.

 

The same is true of a Class ‘A’ pool. These pools are required to be designed to exchange the water in the pools every four hours or six times per day which seems like a lot, but again there are some exceptions. If the pool is a therapeutic pool with a higher percentage of elderly users, or users with either a physical or mental disability, there may be a higher risk of contamination by fouling, making it prudent to exchange the water more often and install UV systems. For pools like this we often design the mechanical system to exchange the water every two hours, or 12 times per day, or more.

 

FILTRATION RATE

Another important consideration is the filtration rate of the pool filter system. In all cases this is calculated by dividing the total flow of the circulation pump by the total surface area of the pool and is expressed as GPM/FT2 of filter area. For sand filters, most manufacturers call for a filtration rate of no more than 15 GPM/ FT2. For a pool that has a flow rate of 450 GPM, the total sand area should be no less than 450 GPM/ 15 GPM/FT2 = 30 FT2. This square footage can be achieved by either using one or two larger horizontal or vertical filters, or a ‘battery’ of smaller filters. Is a filtration rate of 15 GPM/ ft2 always enough? For a lesser-used pool with a lower-risk user, and a low bather load, the answer is probably yes, but in instances where there is a high bather load, it may make sense to lower the velocity of water through the filter to improve filtration even more. Sometimes it makes sense to oversize the filter so that the filtration rate is more like 12 GPM/ft2. The same thing can be done with other filter media like cartridge filters or DE (diatomaceous earth) filters. 

 

UV SANITATION SYSTEMS

UV is a secondary sanitizer that effectively renders most bacteria unproductive (and therefore safe) as water passes through the device. UV units are not required by code for pools (UV is required for splash pads) or spas, but may be a really good idea to install anyway. Some bacteria are resistant to chlorine or bromine and can become the source of an infectious condition that can make swimmers sick. This can result in a severe and widespread illness outbreak that could have long term effects or even cause the death of a vulnerable individual. There could also be legal implications for the owner/operator of the pool. Even though the codes do not require it, putting UV systems on a high bather load or high risk pool is a smart and proactive change to make.

 

Finally, the codes are an effective way to improve the overall safety of pools across the community. As with all rules and regulations, not every scenario can be addressed. It is best to look at the particular conditions surrounding your pool and design it appropriately. Since there is no specific  ‘rule book’ to help you decide when code requirements should be exceeded, it is best to consult an aquatic consultant or pool builder who has a long record of experience with a variety of public and private pools. These experienced companies will help you design, build or upgrade a pool that is safe and fun for your clientele.

 

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Dive Stand Manitenance

Dive Stands are a great addition to any facility, but of course have inherent dangers and cost a lot of money to replace. Let’s talk about how you can make your dive stand and spring board as safe as possible, and how to protect your investment!

 

DON'T SLIP UP

The lifeguard staff should check the surface of the springboard to be sufficiently “non-skid” at the beginning of every shift. This should be done with the board wet, to simulate what it is like when in use. If the board is found to be slippery, it should be taken out of service until the issue is resolved. Nobody want to see anyone hurt or to suffer any legal consequences. The owners, supervisors and lifeguard staff could all potentially share a liability if the board were subsequently shown to be unfit for use.

 

What is in the Making of a Slip?

There are a few reasons that boards can become slippery:

  • Dirt and body oil from swimmers and sunbathers can collect on the surface of the board, making it slippery just because of the nature of the material (oils) or by filling in the ‘voids’ of the textured surface so that it effectively becomes smoother and therefore more slippery.
  • Excessive alkalinity or minerals in the water can cause scaling that again renders the textured board smoother, or damages the textured surface.
  • Wearing, releasing or damage of the textured surface.

How do I Prevent the Board from Becoming Slippery?

  • Hose the board down with fresh water (not pool water) every day. This will help keep the textured surface free of contamination. Never use a high pressure washer for this; you will shorten the life of the texture by blasting away the aggregate.
  • Once a month, give the board a good scrubbing wash with a detergent and hot water. This will remove oils and keep the texture in good shape. Always use a soft bristle brush - never stiff.
  • If there is a hardness buildup, a muriatic acid solution can be used to dissolve the minerals. Remember to exercise all appropriate safety procedures when using muriatic acid!

The Textured Surface is Gone…Now What?

Take the board out of service. It just isn’t worth the risk of continuing to use it. Most commercial manufacturers offer refinishing of commercial boards. Contact your commercial aquatics provider, and they will help arrange shipping and refinishing of your board so it is like new, and back in tr-action!

 

The manufacturers use a special epoxy to bond the slip resistant material to the board, and the material itself is designed to reduce surface tension so that water doesn’t stand tall on the board. Don’t try to resurface the board yourself. It won’t be as good as the factory does it, and you accept the liability if there is an accident after you put it back into service.

 

OK…What Else for the Board?

The rubber channels on the underside of the board must be inspected monthly for signs of wear. If they are getting close to being worn out, they should be replaced BEFORE the metal ridges on the underside of the board come into contact with the fulcrum. If left unchecked, the fulcrum AND the board will be damaged!

 

That’s Great for the Board, but What About the Stand?

  • The best and easiest thing to do is to rinse the entire stand with clean water at the beginning and end of every day. This is especially important for indoor pools. When the stand cools off at night, warm humid air will condense on the stand and handrails, leaving a chlorine residue on the equipment and cause it to degrade prematurely.
  • Keep the fulcrum components clean, especially the tracks.
  • Keep the roller clamp lock nuts, and anti-rattle lock nuts, snug and adjusted for a "no-rattle" clearance.
  • The two grease fittings of the roller block should be lubricated every 2 weeks. Use "Mystic JT-6" grease and grease gun.
  • The hinges that hold the board to the stand need 2 drops of oil every 2 weeks. Use lightweight oil as for door hinges.
  • The carriage bolts that attach the diving board to the hinges should be checked for tightness periodically.  The carriage bolt nuts need to be maintained at 110 lbs of torque (You’ll need a small torque wrench to do it properly).
  • Check all handrail and assembly bolts as part of a quarterly preventative maintenance program to keep everything up to snuff.
  • The stainless steel components are 304 stainless, which is a good quality material for swimming pool natatoriums, but like all stainless steel is not ‘rust-proof’. If rust does appear:
  • Clean it immediately with stainless steel cleaner and a cloth.
  • Rinse with lots of fresh water (never pool water).
  • Using an anodizing product or even wax as a barrier will help prevent future rust.
  • Air quality is critical to the prevention of rust on metal components. Good air handling equipment or the addition of a UV system to the pool go a long way toward improving air quality by reducing airborne chloramines.

 

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Cast-In-Place Concrete Vs. Shotcrete: What's The Difference?

Today, the pool shell of a commercial swimming pool can be constructed in several ways. Two of the most commonly used methods are cast in place concrete and shotcrete. The major difference between the two is quite simply the method of placement. At the end of the day, both systems, with proper design and construction, will provide a rock solid pool shell which can last for more than 40 years.

 

CAST-IN-PLACE CONCRETE

Cast in place concrete construction can be a costly and very labour intensive process. This type of construction requires additional excavation to allow workers room to install an extensive forming system for both the inside and outside of the pool walls, which is used to contain the concrete and shape the pool structure. This working room behind the forming system requires backfilling when the concrete work is complete.

 

Once the formwork is in place, concrete is discharged from a ready-mix truck, and transferred to the work area by way of boom pump, line pump, buggy, or down the chute directly off the back of the truck. Next, concrete is placed on the ground or in the form work, and then must be vibrated for consolidation & compaction.

 

     
Cast in place concrete forming system.     Pouring cast in place concrete.

 

Advantages:

  • It’s the most common type of concrete construction.
  • Cast-in-place concrete will result in a strong and waterproof structure with compressive strengths of 4,000 to 5,000 psi.
  • When properly designed and constructed, cast in place concrete results in a relatively smooth surface that will require very little surface preparation for the use of epoxy-based pool paint, tile and plaster finishes.
  • Cast-in-place concrete results in the most uniform surfaces possible.

Disadvantages:

  • Over excavation is required to allow working area behind the forming system.
  • Very labour intensive to form the walls.
  • Backfilling of the formed walls is required.
  • It’s harder and much more complicated to form shapes.
  • Generally more expensive to construct in comparison to a shotcrete pool.

SHOTCRETE

The quality of a shotcrete pool can be comparable to a cast in place pool with one exception. Typically, they do not require extensive forming which often results in cost and time savings. Although the hardened properties of shotcrete are similar to conventional cast-in-place concrete, the nature of the placement process provides additional benefits, such as very fast erection, particularly on complex forms and shapes, including curved walls. Due to the speed of construction and the minimal equipment requirements, shotcrete is a very cost effective building method.

 

The shotcrete method utilizes concrete that is discharged from a ready-mix truck into a shotcrete pump and then pneumatically “shot” in place against a wood or earth form. To increase the velocity of the material which improves the control of the “shooting” process, accelerators and other admixtures can be added to the nozzle along with air under pressure. Because shotcrete is "shot" up against wood forms or earth, there is generally very little backfilling required.

 

 
Pool form ready for shotcrete.        Shotcrete being "shot" into place.

 

Advantages:

  • No over excavation required. As a result there is very little to no backfilling required.
  • The ability to build in very tight spaces and “free form” applications make it very simple to build pools of any shape.
  • Higher compressive strengths than cast-in-place concrete. Typical compressive strengths of shotcrete are in the 6,000 to 7,500 psi range
  • Lower construction costs.

Disadvantages:

  • There are fewer trained and skilled in the use of shotcrete than that of cast-in-place concrete.
  • The finished surface of shotcrete is rougher than a finished surface of a cast-in-place concrete pool. Additional surface preparation is required before the application of epoxy paint. As a result most shotcrete pools have a plaster finish.
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